National Parking Platform

NPP – A Brief Introduction

Payment for parking is lagging behind developments in other markets and industries. Parking customers, both on-street and in car parks, face a fragmented market offering a wide variety of payment options making the simple act of parking and paying complex and confusing as options are dependent on where they want to park and which payment app they have (or don't have). The National Parking Platform (NPP) is a local authority owned and DfT funded pilot project that brings customer experience into the 21st century by facilitating data exchange, digital payments, and a new way of delivering better parking and mobility services.
In essence, the NPP:

  1. Provides a simplified and improved customer journey from start to finish for the end-customer
  2. Creates a centralised and cost-efficient system supplying data to councils that can inform present and future strategic decisions
  3. Enables a competitive, innovative market by allowing systems to communicate with each other via open data standards and interfaces (APDS/ISO TS 5206-1)
  4. Is a publicly owned, not for profit, national facility that enables Parking Operators (public and private) to communicate digitally with Service Providers.

The NPP has benefits for everyone

For the end-customer

The NPP allows the customer to use their preferred service provider app (or integrated in-vehicle system) to pay for their parking at any participating location. The different service providers will compete for business by offering the best customer experience. The NPP also offers wider access to parking availability data leading to better journey planning, reducing circulating traffic searching for a place to park and the associated congestion and emissions.

For local authorities

The NPP can form a central and cost-efficient component of a local authority's parking technology infrastructure, enabling the supply of open data to app providers and enhancing the Council's customer service with the involvement of the Council's existing suppliers. It offers:

  • Reduced requirement for payment equipment - improved customer experience and more choice encourage greater use of cashless payment
  • Simplified procurement as the requirement for, and cost of, public procurement of payment providers is removed, and supplier lock-in avoided
  • Inexpensive set up and operation (for all sizes of Council) and a reduced cost of collecting parking revenues
  • Single, auditable session payment schedule from all payment providers
  • Secure environment where Councils own and control the data

It enables Councils to make informed strategic decisions on the implementation of policies to:

  • Achieve sustainability goals (e.g. differential tariffs)
  • Provide evidence to support tariff policies
  • Encourage more sustainable journeys (providing information to support multi modal journeys)
  • Support local businesses (through validation schemes etc.)
  • Improve traffic management (through better information on parking availability)
  • Monitor and optimise service performance and reduce costs e.g. intelligent enforcement

For Private Operators

The NPP has similar benefits for Private Operators, ensuring that:

  • Car parks are ‘digitally visible'
  • Customers can pay using their in-vehicle or favourite phone app
  • Features such as ‘frictionless' parking and pay by app are simple to provide

For the market

NPP encourages competition and innovation in the market by managing data on payments and vehicles using open data standards and interfaces (APDS/ISO TS- TS 5206-1), making it easier for systems to communicate with each other. Barriers to entry for new players are removed, new services can gain access to the market, and a stable base for investors is created. Innovators can use the data to introduce new ways to pay for parking services, enhance these services, integrate additional services, and reduce the cost of living for motorists. This aligns the parking industry to today's expectations of an integrated system for the range of different motorist charges.

The NPP today:

Since 2019, the NPP is a strategic initiative from the parking industry with strong support from a wide range of partners including equipment and technology suppliers, commercial operators, Councils, and payment service providers. The pilot platform provides parking locations, tariffs and occupancy to service providers and hence to customers. Customers in Manchester and Oxford can now make payments through their service provider of choice at participating car parks and on-street locations. A working group of 19 local authorities all over the country is contributing to the NPP project, working with 28 private companies (equipment suppliers, service providers etc).

The NPP tomorrow- its potential:

  • To offer dynamic charging for parking e.g. emissions-based tariffs
  • To offer payments for other purposes e.g. EV charging and emissions zones
  • To offer convenient, single payments for multi-modal journeys by integrating with MaaS platforms
  • As part of a wider kerbside management and monetisation strategy
  • To facilitate digitised methods of operation including intelligent deployment, ANPR vehicles etc.
  • To provide a fuller picture of the parking market by interrogating data efficiently and effectively